“One of my neighbors has been consistently using my address to advertise stolen electronics on Craiglist.”

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Photo by PoPville flickr user kristenstake

“Dear PoPville,

One of my neighbors has been consistently using my address to advertise stolen electronics on Craiglist. As a result, I’ve had strangers showing up at my house asking about the the phone/iPad/etc. that I’m selling. Each time my neighbor across the alley comes out of the basement and calls the buyer over. Usually the buyers are so sketched out that they leave immediately. Recently, the same neighbor has started using my address to order prostitutes who show up at my door at midnight with some big guys in idling SUVs.

So far I’ve unsuccessfully tried to deal with this problem by:

1) Speaking to the neighbor directly. The first time he lied and said he wasn’t using my address. The next time we had the buyer show us the text message and Craigslist ad and confronted the neighbor with both. He again tried to deny it and then relented and promised not to do it again.

2) Contacting Craigslist. Apparently Craigslist can remove the ads if I can find them, but if they are taken down before I get screenshots or interaction number Craigslist claims there is nothing more it can do.

3) Calling the police.They were very responsive and sent officers each time I called. They also set up an observation point in my house and eventually arrested my neighbor. He was out a week later.

4) Contacting the landlord who owns the house. She claims to have kicked him out (the house was rented to his mother and he wasn’t supposed to be living there anyway). However, a few weeks later he was back and clearly living in the home. Now she says there is nothing she can do unless she has proof of illegal activity. I put her in contact with the MPD officers who investigated and arrested her tenant. She claims that is not enough to terminate the lease. She keeps saying she has spoken to the tenant about moving out, but nothing seems to come of it. The landlord hasn’t come to the property in the last 5 years and has always rented to truly terrible people (a rotating door of tenants with constant issues – drugs, domestic violence incidents, child protective services calls, etc). Other neighbors who’ve lived in the area longer told me I was wasting my time trying to work with her – they have tried before and never gotten any results.

5) Reporting an illegal rental to DCRA. The landlord seems to have all the necessary permits for the house rental and the adult son is magically not there when the house gets inspected.

I’m already getting a Cease & Desist letter for harassment sent to both the tenant and the landlord, but any advice from folks who have successfully dealt with something like this would be very much appreciated. Thanks!”

50 Comment

  • I have no advice but holy shit this is a level of terrible neighbor I never even imagined.

    • Seriously!! What a nightmare.

    • Same here, I empathize with your situation but can’t think of a productive way to engage this guy. Sounds like a petty sociopath, which to me merits caution about escalating anything to a public shaming level. Do the police or DC offender services have any kind of conciliation office who might be able to help? Or a non-profit that works with ex-offenders to get them to behave like a decent human being?

      • Not that I have been able to find. And, frankly, this person seems to have no desire to do anything productive with his life. He’s ok risking his mother’s housing voucher by not leaving (she’s the actual section 8 tenant) and he has quite a substantial arrest record despite his relatively young age. Additionally, I have no desire for “conciliation” services either – this man just needs to go away.

        • Contact the DC housing authority to report section 8 voucher fraud. Vouchers are tied to tenant income and they must be residents of the unit (can’t sublet). Plenty of reasons to at least revoke this guy/his mom’s rental subsidy

    • Agreed. This is horrible.

  • that is some scary stuff. have you tried fighting fire with fire? post some ads to craigslist with both the landlords address/number and the neighbors.

  • I’d put up a sign on your front porch, in lettering big enough to be easily visible from the street, that says something to the effect of “The stolen electronics you have come here to buy from Craigslist or the John you have come to service are not at this address. Please go to the basement apartment across the street at ____ Street Name to purchase your stolen merchandise or service your John, and please update the address in your records.”
    .
    Yes, there would certainly be some legal implications for libel, but with an arrest report to back you up, the case would never stand even if he managed to sell enough stolen goods to pay for a lawyer. It should pretty directly address the issue quickly. Go on and get the bulk discount and buy several signs, as he’ll likely pull the first few down. Feel free to include a photo if you have a good shot!
    .
    Also, set up a camera with sound on your porch so you can record your interactions with the unsuspecting buyers and prostitutes to provide as evidence to the police!

    • I like the sign idea tbh. Maybe don’t put the part about stolen goods. Simply keep the part about Craigslist goods and the John and how this is not the right address.

    • Or put up a more innocuous sign that says you are not selling or soliciting anything. Unplug your doorbell and stop answering the door at night. I wonder if you stop pointing the buyers in the right direction if he would be less incentivized to continue using your address (assuming he’s not just doing this to harass you)?

    • Not bad actually

    • ha! i bet this might confuse the pizza man.

    • That’s good. When I had heroin dealers with prostitutes living next door customers would erroneously come to my door. Their surprised expressions at seeing me when I answered was almost worth them bothering me. I would courteously direct them to next door. Definitely not the huge problem OP is having.

    • I was also going to suggest a sign of some kind – the amount of detail you want to include is up to you.

    • I did set up a camera and signs about him being recorded, but the sign is a good idea. Thanks.

  • Kyle B 27

    definitely invest in a proper security camera system ASAP– make sure to take advantage of the rebate that the District has said they’ll offer on some models.

    so sorry this is afflicting you, absolutely unfair.

  • you can tell anyone who comes to your door to not listen to your neighbor and he is convicted kidnapper and murderer. people will stop showing up and your neighbor will not give your address anymore

  • Camera and a sign as others have suggested. I believe a simple sign stating that you are not selling goods on craigslist or something to that effect would be sufficient.

  • I’m surprised this ‘neighbor’ hasn’t stopped using your address considering all the grief you have caused him. Sure he would just use one of your neighbors address, but seems like you are doing a good job of making his life a bit difficult.

    +1 to getting the camera set-up.

  • I think that this rises to the level of stalking, which is a criminal offense. You don’t need a personal relationship with the stalker to get a civil protection order if you are being harassed. Once the civil protection order is served on this guy the police can be called and can arrest him for any violation of the order, including using your address as you’ve described. A cease and desist letter is just a piece of paper, but the civil protection order has teeth to it. They’re fairly quick to obtain and the Domestic Violence Unit at the DC Superior Court is very helpful in assisting with the process.

    • Yes, I’m trying to get a protective order now. I am waiting for the arrest report and the folks from VICE have been helpful.

      Craziest part is that the house next door to his is empty. He could have used that address this whole time.

    • As someone who works at DC SAFE (the organization in the Superior Court you’re referencing) don’t call us, we’re not the appropriate agency to deal with this. Unless OP has slept with, is related to, or has any other sort of sexual or familial relationship with this piece of garbage, we’ll just politely tell you that we can’t help you.
      Please don’t belittle domestic violence survivors to a catch-all of bad behavior.

      On a similar note, OP isn’t eligible for a TPO or CPO (protection orders) based on what they’ve shared. A cease and desist was in fact the appropriate route.

  • Is a “No Trespassing” sign on the front porch an option?
    When his customers ring your bell call the police have them cited for violating the clearly posted sign- nothing kills a business faster than angry customers.

    • They would believe themselves to have been invited, and therefore would not be trespassing. Also, not an expert, but is going to someone’s front door trespassing?

  • Wow…this really puts the ongoing parking dispute I have with one of my neighbors into perspective.

  • I bet if you put some sort of police sticker on your door most of them would just leave without knocking.

    • I have that too!

      Really I feel somewhat sorry for the buyers. Most of them have been pretty normal and thought it was a legitimate ad. A few even helped me forward the emails they received from my neighbor to Craigslist. Only once did the buyer freak out at me because he thought I was somehow trying to scam him.

  • Another thought. Contact the local tv stations and see if they will pick up the story.
    In addition, keep working with the police. The more MPD documentation you have to support your case the better.
    So sorry for you and good luck.

  • I like the security camera and security light ideas. Light up the alley and have a visible camera. Then use the footage as needed.

  • ooooh, i can’t wait to think of a fabulous way to scare him off… maybe instead of an iPad deliver a pile of dog droppings in a box? mouse traps all over your porch? a blowhorn everytime someone rings the doorbell?. I gotta get my college prankster friend on this… there are sooooo many options

  • General Grant Circle

    Why it sounds like you really HAVE tried everything! Short of violence, but not worth it in this case.

  • A couple of suggestions and general advice. At the last PSA meeting I attended MPD shared that there are some increased robbery and assaults happening for people showing up for a purchase from a craigslist item. Be safe. Second I would contact the MPD Lt. who is in charge of your PSA and ask them what next steps can happen. It sounds like they were responsive but likely don’t have the resources to sit at the location and set up an operation to re-catch this person. I would also ask directly if it is something the Office of Attorney General (OAG) might get involved with. OAG might be able to help put some pressure on the landlord to address the tenant issue. Lastly I would call 911 for each incident. Even if it seems like a waste it is helpful to document the frequency of the issue. OAG has shared in public forums they can use 911 calls to build a case for nuisance properties or individuals when MPD may not have criminal charges to pursue. You can ask the 911 operator to have the officer follow up with you afterwards to talk privately about the issue and what they were able to do, if anything. Good luck.

  • Getting prostitutes delivered to your mom’s house….

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